Negative campaiging and the race for the White House

Filed under: In The News

Red Mom Blue Mom
Welcome to Red Mom Blue Mom, ParentDish's special coverage of the 2008 Presidential election. Each Tuesday through November 4, columnists Rachel Campos-Duffy (Red Mom) and Ada Calhoun (Blue Mom) will take on issues relevant to parents on both sides of the aisle. You can find past Red Mom/Blue Mom posts here.

Red Mom: Ohio plumber deconstructs Obama
By Rachel Campos-Duffy

Barack ObamaLeave it to an Ohio plumber to catch Barack Obama off guard and ask the question we all want to ask:
"Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn't it?"

And lo and behold, Obama's response to this off-the-cuff question is more damning than any of the negative ads being aired about him.

"My attitude is that if the economy's good for folks from the bottom up, it's gonna be good for everybody ... I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."

It's what his most famous supporter would call an "Ah-ha moment."

This rare, unscripted and honest exchange between a citizen and a candidate did what all the William Ayers commercials with their ominous music and menacing voice-overs could not. Using Barack's own words, it explained why his association with William Ayers, Reverend Wright, A.C.O.R.N and other radicals and radical institutions matters. It cut through the noise and politics and revealed a simple truth about who Obama is and what he believes.

Yes, William Ayers is an unrepentant domestic terrorist, but that's beside the point. The reason Barack served as chairman of William Ayers' education board and used Ayer's home to kick-off his political career is that they have a shared political and economic philosophy, one rooted in socialism that advocates for wealth redistribution and radical community organizing. Ayers describes himself as "a radical, leftist, small-c communist." As chairman of Ayer's Chicago Annenburg Challenge, Obama didn't direct funds to needy Chicago schools. Instead, he directed them to left-wing radical organizations that "partnered" with schools. Obama and Ayers weren't "pal'n around," as Sarah Palin asserted in a campaign speech last week. They were working together to advance a common cause.

Obama knows that if he tells the American public the truth about his core beliefs, or if they are exposed by scrutiny of his associations, the electorate will reject him -- especially since an Obama administration comes with a filibuster-proof Democratic House and Senate.

Without a press actively pursuing these questions, McCain resorted to negative ads to inform the voters. The problem is that 30-second spots are not enough to connect the dots between Obama, his friends (Ayers, Wright, Alinsky, and Frank Marshall Daves etc.), and a shared political and economic philosophy rooted in socialism.

Without more thorough explanations from McCain and Palin, less sophisticated voters end up getting caught up in the negative ad buzz words (terrorist), and the candidate's Muslim-sounding name (Hussein); essentially, they're connecting the wrong dots.

But this time in Ohio, a plumber's unassuming, cut-through-the-bull question disarmed Barack and did what Brokaw, Couric, and Lehrer could not: get Obama to connect the dots for us.

Blue Mom:
McCain's Dangerous New Direction
By Ada Calhoun

John McCainFrank Rich yesterday in the New York Times warned that the McCain campaign's fear-mongering talking points ("Who IS Obama?," for example) could have dire consequences. It's not crazy to think, as Rich points out, that "a crazy person might take a shot at him."

Indeed, anyone who's seen the videos of recent GOP rallies in Florida and New Mexico can see that the Republicans, in apparent desperation, are playing to their audience's greatest fears. Sarah Palin says Obama is "palling around with terrorists," referring to his minor professional affiliation with the former radical and current University of Chicago professor William Ayers. The campaign is irresponsibly allowing its base to connect the dots between the otherness of the name Barack Hussein Obama and the threat implied by Palin's repeated use of the word terrorist.

John McCain suggests Obama is an enigma, fueling the Muslim Manchurian Candidate insanity. To Senator McCain, Senator Obama is a mystery. But so are the economy, national security and everything else that matters to the American middle class.

And then McCain acts surprised when audiences yell out "Treason," and "Kill him!"

As Khaled Hosseini wrote in The Washington Post recently, McCain and Palin are "playing with fire." He's right that the Republicans are clearly trying "to distract Americans by provoking fear, anxiety and hatred."

The campaign's timing could hardly be more fiendish. With the economy in peril and our future uncertain, McCain's doing everything to distract us from the fact that he and his running mate are unprepared to deal with the economy. Instead, even as Obama yesterday presented a cogent, thorough economic rescue plan, McCain was doing everything he could to avoid talking about the central issue facing our nation. He's so eager to win that he'd rather take the risk of painting his rival as our common enemy than to admit what our true enemies are: fear, hatred and an unwillingness to do the hard work necessary to protect us all.

How are the negative campaign ads affecting you?
They haven't changed my mind or my vote.214 (58.2%)
I'm rethinking my vote because of the ads.16 (4.3%)
I'm angry with both parties for participating in this.138 (37.5%)

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.